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Video Technology in the Courts - The Effects on Jurors

NCJ Number
M M Connors
Date Published
164 pages
This study sought to determine the differences between the perceptions and responses of jurors who view live trial testimony and of jurors who view video trial testimony.
The study assumed that juror response differences due to the medium of communication are more likely to occur in the perceptive and affective dimensions than in the cognitive dimension. Therefore, a questionnaire was designed to measure the first two dimensions through questions which focused on the jurors' perceptions of trial participants, of themselves, of their role in the trial, and of their degree of involvement with key participants. Questions were also asked concerning legal judgments on the case, juror demographics, and the juror's perception of the acceptability of the medium of communication. Subjects were recruited from the general population through help-wanted ads. The four trials that were viewed by 8 groups of jurors (total, 110) were part of a mock trial series conducted at Stanford University's Law School. The identical subject matter involved a civil case of alleged racial segregation by a school district, and four separate judges presided. Each trial included roles for two plaintiff attorneys, two defense attorneys, and three witnesses. Four juror groups viewed the live trials, and four viewed video tapes. Although video jurors responded negatively to direct questions concerning the use of video for presenting testimony, they gave no other indication of being less satisfied than did jurors who viewed live trials. The medium of communication did not affect jurors' sympathy for and identification with the witnesses, their perceptions of the attractiveness of trial participants, their confidence in their own judgments, or their verdicts. Those attorneys who benefited from video were usually those who had been scored relatively low in the live trials, while those who scored relatively high in the live trials changed very little when seen on video. Finally, the jurors' processes of deliberation did not interact significantly with the medium of communication. The advantages of video process include the more efficient use of court, witness, and juror time and reduced witness anxiety. Data is presented in tabular form, and figures are included. Related studies are reviewed. A reference list and appendixes containing the questionnaire, letters and instructions to jurors, the voir dir, the verdict form, and additional data are provided.